Worship of the Lord through music and song is as important in the Latter-day Saint culture as through the spoken or written word. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said,
“My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:12).
One of the first callings that the Lord gave to the newly organized church was to compile a book of hymns for the Saints. The First Presidency of the Church has stated:
“Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings. The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord. . . Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns.” (Hymns, ix).
Our modern hymnbook includes 341 Hymns. A primary children’s songbook contains another 285 sacred and secular songs, and many supplements and new arrangements for all age groups and vocal ranges are released regularly. Today, a full website is devoted to the Music of the LDS church .
Every LDS congregation has a volunteer choir. Every formal meeting begins and ends with a hymn, and usually includes at least one or more “special musical numbers”. We sing hymns before we pray. We sing hymns before we serve. We sing hymns before we partake of the Lord’s sacrament. Our children are taught to sing hymns from a very young age, beginning in the home during our weekly “Family Home Evening” nights, and while preparing a special annual worship service through the Primary Children’s organization. Our youth sing in meetings large and small, and always during youth camps. In addition to our congregational and community choirs, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Orchestra at Temple Square is well known both Nationally and Internationally (it is comprised of professional musicians who all serve as unpaid volunteers, by-the-way). In short, we are a singing people! And we take our musical praise seriously.
The hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a compilation of worship songs written by talented people of many faiths throughout history. Some are unique to the Latter-day culture, and others are beloved and popular in other houses of worship.
Each hymn has a special story, although they are often unknown and untold. One of the lesser-known is Hymn #75, In Hymns of Praise Our Voices Raise with text by Ada Blenkhorn and music by Alfred Beirly.
Ada Blenkhorn was born in 1858. She began writing hymns at the age of 34. Although she became a prolific poet and gospel song lyric writer, with over 300 hymns to her credit, there is relatively little published about her personal life. It is said that at some point she became discouraged and decided to stop writing, but she happened to meet a woman on the street who reminded her “May some soul be converted through a hymn that you shall write, who would not be converted if you do not write it! ” Miss Blenkhorn later wrote, “Those beautiful and inspiring words seemed an invisible and mighty chain that held me fast and would not let me give up.” (source)
Out of the hundreds of Ada Belnkhorn’s gospel hymns, two most famous and oft performed are “Let the Sunshine In“, and “Keep On The Sunny Side of Life” Sadly, neither of these lovely hymns are included in the LDS liturgy, (however they would certainly be appropriate for performance). The back-story of the latter song is very touching;
“Early in [Ada Blenkhorn’s] life, she was given the task of caring for an invalid nephew who always wanted his wheel chair to be pushed ‘down the sunny side of the street.’ His constant repetition of this phrase inspired her to write the gospel song ‘Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life.’  (Wikipedia)
Happily, the Latter-day Saints have retained one of this faithful and talented woman’s songs in our hymnbook to ponder, perform and enjoy.
I took the liberty of creating a video of this song for you to enjoy!
IN HYMNS OF PRAISE YOUR VOICES RAISE – Hymn #75
1. In hymns of praise your voices raise
To him who reigns on high,
Whose counsels keep the mighty deep,
Who ruleth earth and sky.
Exalt his name in loud acclaim;
His mighty pow’r adore!
And humbly bow before him now,
Our King forevermore.
2. Beneath his hand, at his command,
The shining planets move;
To all below they daily show
His wisdom and his love.
3. The little flow’r that lasts an hour,
The sparrow in its fall,
They, too, shall share his tender care;
He made and loves them all.
4. Then sing again in lofty strain
To him who dwells on high;
To prayers you raise, and songs of praise,
He sweetly will reply.
Text: Ada Blenkhorn
Music: Alfred Beirly
Thank you for sharing this information. I’m a music chairperson and like to tell stories about the writers and composers when we do practice songs. I appreciate the time you took to tell me about Ada.